Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pissing off Chickens

MMB: Hello, pretty chickens!
Chicken: I am not your monkey! Get out of my face!
Fray: Cough.

And that is how I made a sub par video of a chicken coughing.

But seriously, I'm very excited about having chickens. I will introduce you to our chicks soon...they are residing at a neighbor's house while we ready the coop. Stay tuned.

A Turkey Named Narcissus

We took a field trip today to our good friends' house to talk chicken coop design - and we got to hang with their two swell turkeys. One of the turkeys hadn't moved from the front side of the truck all morning - he was busy admiring himself/posturing to a perceived rival in the truck bumper. The other (more humble) turkey is named Steve.

(MMB animal talk crutch: Hello pretty *insert animal name* Say hello to your mother for me.)

Stay awesome, turkeys.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How Things Happen

I've always cringed at stuffed animals in cars - Beanie Babies and faux poodles on the dashboard, etc. I have very few rules in life (an outright lie, but let's pretend), and one of them is - WAS - that I would never allow a stuffed animal to be displayed anywhere in my vehicle.

The first time I realized this rule would be broken was when the Dogtor began using a stuffed cat (this cat wore a t-shirt emblazoned with some veterinary drug company's name on it) to hold our EZ Pass on long drives. Otherwise, the EZ Pass would slide off the dash, and into one of those car abysses where you find potato chips, important receipts, earrings, dog treats and fountain pens. The entire drive, I would manage an inner-freak out about the damned stuffed cat on the dashboard. It's like - please - don't tempt my inner redneck ANY MORE THAN YOU HAVE TO.

THEN we had to drive a 1 year old to Pennsylvania - a 6+ hour trip. The Dogtor cleverly installed a giraffe and an elephant in the backseat - a car mobile that Fray clearly enjoyed. Problem is - they're still there, and weeks later I'm driving around, trying to be, you know, kind of cool or something, and there are circus animals dangling in my backseat windows.

That's how it happens, I realized. That's how you become that woman in a beat up Jeep with a different color door, black currant lip liner, and stuffed animals in the car. You start collecting Princess Diana memorabilia, and it's all downhill from there...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stumbling Upon Beautiful Things

In recent research, I discovered one of my subject's favorite songs...picture this coming to you on the streets of Paris, and let it break your heart. But then again, someone could sing about amputated limbs or tax law in French and I would find it beautiful.

I try to ignore the gross sentimentality and the fact that Linda Rondstadt may have covered it. Perhaps in its day the song was akin to an overplayed Celine Dion ballad. But there's just enough edge in the translation to keep me happy: "You know well that underneath it all, I don't believe any of it..."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Night Jumping

Lately, Bo and I have been taking pictures of our evening guests jumping in the backyard at night. Bo termed it "night jumping," which instantly summons REM:

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.....I'm not sure all these people understand.

Furthermore - I was telling a hypersmart friend of mine about night jumping yesterday, and how we hoped over years to amass a hilarious collection of various acquaintances springing into the Vermont night - and he told me - hey - there's a photographer - Phillipe Halsman - who did that with his subjects after shoots.

And because this world is full of coincidences, an article on Halsman's work was featured in the NYT today - and friends and family picked up on our mutual love of photographed jumping - what Halsman termed "Jumpology." Clearly ours is the impoverished and slightly drunk version of Halsman's concept - but all in good fun.

My favorite line from the NYT piece - which I think explains the appeal of the jumping photos we've been taking - is below:

“When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping, and the mask falls, so that the real person appears.”

Aldous Huxley -Photo Credit

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Sad Sounds of Cattle

Once, months ago, I asked OPA why the cows across the road were mooing so dramatically. They're in heat, he said.

I asked again over dinner last night - and wished I hadn't.

Me: OPA, why are the cows so loud today?
OPA: You don't want to know.
Me: Yes I do.
OPA: They probably separated the calves from their mothers.
Me: I didn't want to know that.

And so last night, I listened to a cow "bawl" to her calf. ALL NIGHT. At 2 AM, the calf was bawling back. Apparently this happens when the calves are weaned and separated. It was the most desperate, gut-wrenching sound.

It broke my heart (easy to do.) Moo, Frasier. Moo. Glad we're in the same pasture.

And yes. I have anthropomorphic tendencies.

Photo - neighbor's cows near our house on West Mountain Road


Friday, May 21, 2010

My Summer in a Head Net

I picked my parents up from the airport yesterday. We drove up the driveway, anxious to see Frasier, who was sitting on a quilt on the lawn with the sitter. I scooped her up, and proceeded to present my gorgeous spawn to my parents for love and inspection.... immediately realizing that my gorgeous spawn had dried blood caked behind her ear and in her blonde curls.

It looked as if a baby-body part-thief had tried to remove her ear.

Black flies, I hate you. In addition to hating your painful parasitic baby-noshing tendencies, I hate the term "blood meal."

After dinner al fresco, I realized I too had multiple bites. Here's to my summer in a head net.

Also - why must all mannequins have that self-satisfied smirk? You are so damn prepared for the world, head mannequin. Nothing can stop you. (I've always aspired to be a Matthew Wilder back-up dancer.)

Photo Credit

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Kind of Place

Vermont junkyards with old cars! Be still, my heart!

I don't totally get all the old car jokes this guy makes (real control arms...huh huh huh), but the fun starts at 1:50 (near where he says "dug" the way Fray says Dog.) I car-crush on the '57 Chevy at the end. I think I might take the Dogtor on a picnic lunch here. The weird dates I dream up...

There are tons of video slideshows of old cars languishing in junk yards. (In fact, I enjoyed the soundtrack to one of them so much I just downloaded some Willie Nelson...Yesterday's Wine.)

My grandfather drove a '57 DeSoto - baby blue with a white top. It mortified my mother - I'd love to have it I could mortify Frasier. These things work in cycles, you know?

Sunday, May 16, 2010


After a year or two of obsessing over Edna St. Vincent Millay's biography (Savage Beauty), I applied and was accepted as a fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts in 2007. I spent a month that November wearing a sexy orange vest and walking the grounds - half afraid I was going to be shot by a hunter, half obsessed with Edna-things....the gin pile, her grave stone, her un-restored home. Oh. And writing, too. I did a little of that.

Today, on the way home from a wickedly fun party in Boston, the Dogtor detoured and let me pay my respects to Millay (whose homestead is in Austerlitz, NY - just over the MA border, near Stockbridge.) So - Fray-monster got her first dose of Edna in, and paid her respects to Vincent and Eugen.

While I was a resident at the Colony, I was in such an introspective and ME-oriented mode. It was surreal to roam the grounds today and hear my daughter's voice bouncing across the lawn - a being whose existence I had not even considered during my time at Steepletop.

Friday, May 14, 2010

How Sexy is YOUR Tail?

I adore barn swallows. They swoop and maneuver like little stunt pilots in our yard - through the barn, around the crab apple tree, over the fields - and I'm taken by their sweet little forked tails.

A coffee table book we have on "Extreme Birds" dubs barn swallows the bird with the "sexiest tail." (If you love birds, please read this book. If you haven't turned that corner to pure dorkdom yet, cool. We can still be friends.)

Earlier this year, when I groomed the horse (half-assed groom job - sorry Whispy) - OPA instructed me to leave the horse hair on the ground. What will the birds use for their nests if you pick it up? he said.

We've got a pair of swallows in the barn, and a pair (pictured) under the side porch. They bitch and swoop whenever we go near the nest. I'm rooting for them, and lucky for the swallows, only one our our cats is even remotely athletic.

Baby Chicks and "Gentle Petting"

We met our new chicks today at Whitman's Feed Store. Fray-monster was jazzed - there was a lot of unintelligible babble unleashed at the six little chicks zipping around underneath the heat lamp.

The very nice handler popped them into a cardboard box, which our friend (who is caring for the chicks until Monday) kindly opened to show Frasier. Frasier quickly - and fearlessly- reached into the box with grasping fingers that looked capable of neck-twisting. As everything goes into her mouth, I had visions of Ozzy Osbourne....sigh. Luckily Fray just wanted to touch the chick's head.

Earlier in the day she had excitedly whacked one of the four kittehs across the skull with a remote control. The torture she will unleash on our pets....she does not know her strength.

I often walk her through my facial features.

Me: This is Mommy's nose. This is Mommy's mouth. This is Mommy's eye.
Frasier: (with maniacal giggle) - ahhh! (finger goes into Mommy's eye.)
Me: !@$%* Yes, Frasier. Mommy's eye. It is that thing you are sticking your finger in repeatedly. Do not blind Mommy.
Frasier: (maniacal giggle.)
Me: Your father is colorblind. You need Mommy to have working eyes. Imagine an adolescence with clashing clothes, Frasier.
Frasier: (pulls Mommy's eyelashes)
Me: Are you serious? Who taught you this?
Frasier: (bites Mommy's chin)
Me: Is that a kiss? I'm going to make believe that's a kiss.

We are working on "gentle petting."

Photo Credit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Summer Dresses

The wedding circuit picks up this time of year, which means summer dress shopping. And summer dress shopping reminds me of Irwin Shaw's Girls in Their Summer Dresses. Such a blast of truth, right?

"I like the girls in the offices. Neat, with their eyeglasses, smart, chipper, knowing what everything is about, taking care of themselves all the time." He kept his eye on the people going slowly past outside the window. "I like the girls on Forty-fourth Street at lunchtime, the actresses, all dressed up on nothing a week, talking to the good-looking boys, wearing themselves out being young and vivacious outside Sardi's, waiting for producers to look at them. I like the salesgirls in Macy's, paying attention to you first because you're a man, leaving lady customers waiting, flirting with you over socks and books and phonograph needles. I got all this stuff accumulated in me because I've been thinking about it for ten years and now you've asked for it and here it is."

Here's hoping I pick one out that would turn Irwin's head.

Photo Credit

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On Hair

Dogtor, OPA, and Fray took me to the West Mountain Inn for brunch today, and after the meal we went to check out the freshly-buzzed alpacas. The poor little guys had extra-noodly necks, and their eyeballs were greatly exaggerated. OPA remarked that they reminded him of ostriches.

Did you know that people are using alpaca and llama hair to clean up oil spills
? (Another OPA fact.)

In other news, Fray and I have the same hair, and I'm pretty sure that it will not save the Gulf if stuffed into nylon pantyhose. But just say the word and we'll try.

Happy Mother's Day - Vermont Style

I've been nervous about mother's day ever since my father-in-law (aka OPA) got a gleam in his eye and told me he was planning a run for me. (This man, who spawned the incomparable Dogtor, is a foot and a half taller than I am and likes to run uphill in snow-mud at 5 AM in negative degree temps.)

We woke up to temperatures in the low thirties. Then five of us crammed into the Subaru, parked at some industrial gas facility with video cameras - so the car would be close to the place where we finished our run. You see, OPA fully intended to end the Mother's Day Run with a swim across a river (swollen creek?)

To clarify, in the photos I am flashing my own gang sign - WM - Woman of Mystery. Yes. I know how incredibly lame that is.

We jogged through town and then onto a deserted stretch of the soon-to-be-bypass. It snowed and one of the doctors among us took a phone call - while jogging. There were jumping competitions and all was generally going well until we came to the end of the road - aka a precipice overlooking gravel, cement, heavy machinery, and a rushing body of water. This is where OPA realized a new makeshift bridge had been installed across the river, meaning that a swim was no longer necessary.

And that is how I did not get hypothermia on Mother's Day. So I climbed a giant crane instead. (Thank you, Dogtor, for the video!)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Losing Loveboys

I first heard about this exhibition via my friend, the phenomenal artist Leslie Parke. Allen Ginsberg's photos - and insanely wonderful captions - are on display at the National Gallery of Art in DC, some of which include gorgeous shots of Kerouac.

Jack Kerouac spent time in my hometown of Rocky Mount, NC - living with his sister and mother in a little house on Tarboro Street.

Ginsberg even name checks RM in line 62 of Howl - this is after the cool parts about crying in white gymnasiums naked, losing loveboys, and biting detectives - he writes of the “best minds…who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddhas or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive' or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisy-chain or grave.”

I'm tempted to find a way to see this exhibit - the NPR article slideshow has a few good snippets. The caption quality humbles, especially in this Facebook world of photo sharing. Enjoy.

(Photo Source)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Dog That Wouldn't Die, Died

RIP Spiritwalker, aka Walker, aka man-eating terrier. I loved you in a complicated way.

I will miss you when I walk to the barn. I will miss you when I open the garage door, and you are not there to growl at me. I will miss you when I reach out to get my shoes, and you are not there to gnash your teeth. I will miss you spending dinner parties locked in the truck. I will miss you drooling on my feet when I feed the dogs. I will miss fearing you when I sneak into the house. I will miss being glad you're there in case someone else tries to sneak into the house.

I will miss your scholarly eyebrows and the angry T. Rex sounds you were capable of making. I will miss watching you make a go for the barn swallows, even when you could hardly walk. I will miss watching you try to play. I will miss watching you try to be a good dog.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pimp My Ride

I have wanted a Grand Jeep Wagoneer Woody since I turned 16. I want one now, but only if I can trick it out to run on biodiesel...which I probably can't do.

In one of my dream lives, I become an intern at Piedmont Biofuels, and drive said woody to Poole's Diner in downtown Raleigh and eat fried corn on the cob all summer while drinking freshly mixed mojitos.

But, because eating fried corn will make me fat, and Vermont is in the process of becoming one of the most outrageously beautiful places in America, I'll happily stay here and work on our garden. I purchased lettuce seeds today and building plans for chicken coops. That's right - CHICKENS ARE COMING. (Insert Arrested Development Chicken Dance)

Monday, May 3, 2010


Rocked a sick Fray to sleep outside this morning underneath the big maple with a storm blowing in. (Cue Stevie - oui! Live in Paris.)

There is more mystery in a southern storm - I think I believe that more than just wanting to believe it. I lived for the pea green skies and house-shaking thunder in Raleigh. I used to pour myself a glass of wine, settle into the porch swing, and listen to the lightening crack. Our neighbors did the same - nothing like a wild storm to bring people outside.

Our house in Vermont sits on top of a hill, and the wind is what matters here.

Conclusion - a storm is best experienced in an old house. Wait - everything is.

(Photo Credit - Gaston Callum via The Architecturalist)
(Photo Credit 2 - "The Powerline Capital of the World" by Steve Rob - Southern Decay stream on Flickr)

Saturday, May 1, 2010


There are not words for this. SO. AMAZING. Throwing flowers like confetti. And only a few beers in. And I realize I have a "I won a car" jump as a crutch photo-pose. Contemplating the stars over Tupac and Ying Yang Twins in the driveway with my sister = perfect night. And Big Tymers. Missing her before she leaves.